Harvard Square Businesses Devise Strategy To Appeal to Chinese Tourists

Christine E Mansour

Tourists pose for photos in front of the famous John Harvard statue in Harvard Yard.

Though Harvard Square is already a popular tourist attraction, local businesses are working to bring in even more visitors, particularly targeting Chinese travelers.

The Harvard Square Business Association recently partnered with the company Attract China to reach out to Chinese visitors, according to HSBA Executive Director Denise A. Jillson. With the company’s help, HSBA and businesses in the Square will advertise to Chinese tourists with a website in Mandarin.

“It’s critical to the economic vitality of the Square, there’s no doubt about it,” Jillson said. “That’s why we thought given the number of tour groups coming in, increasing every year, and the number of Asian tourists that are arriving, it seemed prudent and even necessary.”

Set to launch in April, this online portal will feature various restaurants, retailers, and other attractions in Cambridge and the greater Boston area. The organization has teamed up with more than 70 individual companies to provide information in Mandarin about popular destinations.

Founded in 2011, Attract China partners with businesses to assist them in contacting and establishing a presence with Chinese tourists. The company operates a Mandarin website called Xiao Yao Dao, which translates to “the gateway to getaway,” through which Chinese tourists can learn about hotels, casinos, museums, and events in a variety of destinations.

According to Evan Saunders, CEO and Co-Founder of Attract China, he first thought of the idea for the website in Beijing, where he says he “got really in touch with the Chinese traveler.”

Today, Saunders said, the company aims to help tourists get the full experience when they travel to places like Harvard Square. They target both individual travelers as well as Chinese students already studying in the U.S.


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